Introducing a jam-packed event that lasted 3+ hours, 20th Century Fox Film chairman and CEO Stacey Snider made her first appearance for the studio tonight at CineEurope. Snider told European exhibitors that “filmmakers come first” for Fox as she brought out President of International Theatrical Distribution Andrew Cripps (in his first Fox show here) and President of International Marketing, Kieran Breen.
They led the presentation and were joined by such talent as Kingsman: The Golden Circle’s Matthew Vaughn and Colin Firth; Murder On The Orient Express’ Kenneth Branagh; Alita: Battle Angel director Robert Rodriguez; The Greatest Showman’s Hugh Jackman; and Deadpool’s Ryan Reynolds (in a taped bit).
Among the other films highlighted were War For The Planet Of The Apes, Maze Runner: The Death Cure, Red Sparrow, The Mountain Between Us and X-Men titles New Mutants and Dark Phoenix (the latter having started production last week).
Those were joined by Fox Searchlight titles Battle Of The Sexes, Goodbye Christopher Robin , Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape Of Water. Of the latter two, Searchlight EVP of International Marketing & Distribution Rebecca Kearey said they would be playing at many of the fall festivals.
The proceedings were kicked off with footage from Apes, the film that rounds out the trilogy whose first two films have grossed $1.2B worldwide. It starts international rollout on July 11.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle helmer Vaughn then came to the stage, jetting in from the editing room in London, and quipping he was thrilled to be here after previously visiting CineEurope with 2007’s Stardust (he praised Cripps, who was then at Paramount, for having believed in the film despite what Vaughn termed a “domestic f***-up”). Kingsman: The Secret Service was a 2015 breakout hit for Fox with $414M worldwide and Vaughn said making sequels should only be done “it people genuinely want them… we had a way in which expands the film.” He showed the first six minutes of Golden Circle and another pair of sequences.
Vaughn was intending for someone else to direct The Golden Circle but couldn’t find someone he felt comfortable handing it over to. The first Kingsman was “a celebration of Britishness” and this one has American co-stars including Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Channing Tatum and Halle Berry. Said Vaughn, “I think various presidents before Obama ruined the American dream and people stopped wanting to be American, so I wanted to remind the world of Americana… David Niven was Colin Firth in the first film. In this one we’ve got a James Coburn/Burt Reynolds resurgence.” Moore’s villain character, he said, “is Martha Stewart on crack.” Elton John is also in the film and Vaughn implored, “Trust me, you have to see it to believe what Elton does in this movie. But if you imagine Elton could be more outrageous, he pulls it off.”
Firth then joined the execs and Vaughn, saying he had “long stopped being surprised by Matthew.” His Harry Hart character was killed off in the first movie and in Hollywood’s worst kept secret, he returns for the sequel. Firth hadn’t seen footage yet and quipped, “I can neither confirm nor deny that I am in this film.” Of Hart, Firth said, “It was unthinkable that I would be the steel cold killer with the baggage that I brought, you know romcoms…”
Vaughn also has a Kingsman brand of offshoot products including Statesman bourbon which was served ahead of the presentation (perhaps helping to loosen up the room after a long day).
Branagh introduced an extended clip of Murder On The Orient Express, extolling the virtues of shooting in 70mm. The star-studded “Whodunit, howdunit, whydunit” Agatha Christie adaptation begins international release on November 9.
Lightstorm Entertainment’s Jon Landau provided an update on James Cameron’s Avatar sequels and talked up Alita: Battle Angel. He showed a first look of the title cyber-girl, who is fully CGI-generated. They had picked up the rights in 2000, originally for Cameron to direct “and then a little movie called Avatar got in the way.” They turned to helmer Rodriguez who joined Landau on stage in Barcelona tonight.
Rodriguez said he and Cameron met 25 years ago and had wanted to work together. With Alita, he offered to be Cameron’s “guy in the field” while the latter worked on Avatar.
Asked why the Alita needed to be CGI, Rodriguez said, “It’s based on the manga of Battle Angel and when I first saw Jim and he showed me his script, and his 600 pages of notes and the art he had created” what stood out most was for the first time, “a full real version of the classic anime character we’ve been seeing Astro Boy in the 30s… That was already very bold and very original and exciting. It’s very characteristic of the manga.”
Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly and Mahershala Ali also star in the movie that releases July 20, 2018.
Further footage included a behind-the-scenes look at Hany Abu-Assad’s The Mountain Between Us with Idris Elba and Kate Winslet which releases in October; a sneak peek of Maze Runner: The Death Cure which has just wrapped in South Africa; and the Blue Sky animated take on Ferdinand.
The Searchlight presentation offered trailers of Emma Stone/Steve Carell-starrer Battle Of The Sexes; the Simon Curtis-helmed Goodbye Christopher Robin , Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape Of Water.
Next up was Ambivalence, an “emotional romantic drama” from a visionary director whose trailer, Breen said, would require “tissues for this moving first-look.” But that’s not really a thing, is it? Nope. Cue Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool appearing on screen with a message from the Vancouver set on Deadpool 2.
Finally, Hugh Jackman came on stage for a finale surrounding PT Barnum story The Greatest Showman, a film “about taking risks and celebrating what makes each and every one of us different, special and unique.” With the auditorium here now festooned by circus banners, Jackman praised his co-stars Michelle Williams, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Zac Efron and Keala Settle and director Michael Gracey whom he’d met on a commercial shoot seven years prior.
Out then came dancers from the Christmas release that has 10 original songs, as gold streamers were blasted out across the audience.
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